“Young Adult”—(Grow Up, Already!)

The lead character in “Young Adult” is not especially likable. The movie, though, has a lot to like.

We all know people who have moved from a small town to a big city, enjoyed some career success and felt somehow superior to those back home. When they return home, they are sometimes amazed to see folks who are satisfied with their simple small town lives.

Charlize Theron plays Mavis. She’s a divorced writer of young adult novels who leaves Minneapolis to return to her small hometown in outstate Minnesota. Turns out she was a bit of a jerk to most of her classmates in high school. She is not exactly welcomed back with open arms.

Her goal is to reunite with her old hometown boyfriend who is now married and a new dad. She also encounters the class nerd at a bar in the hometown. Patton Oswalt gives an award-worthy performance as the nerd, who becomes a drinking buddy of Mavis.

Another character in the movie is the fictional small town of Mercury, Minnesota. Unlike Garrison Keillor’s fantasy Minnesota town of Lake Wobegon, Mercury has undergone the same transformations many American small towns have experienced. Diablo Cody wrote the script and offers commentary on the fast food chains that dominate the main drag and the attitudes of those who live in Mercury, either by choice or lack of choice.

There are some good laughs in “Young Adult.” Charlize Theron, not exactly known for comedy, can bring it.

The movie also serves up a memorable and seriously flawed character in Mavis. Will you feel sorry for her or will you feel she deserves all her fates? That’s for discussion on the way home from the movie.

The movie is directed by Jason Reitman of “Up in the Air,” “Thank You For Smoking” and “Juno” fame. He again delivers a trademark cool title sequence. “Young Adult,” like those listed, is funny, but also shares viewpoints on modern American life that stay with you after the credits roll.

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